Starting up a business is an exciting time, but writing a business plan can seem daunting initially. However, being able to write a good business plan is an essential skill to have for any entrepreneur or new business looking to increase their chance of survival.
1) Identify your audience. A good business plan should be written from the prospective of the audience. First, you need to decide on the purpose the plan. Are you trying to persuade an investor to take on your project or communicate the future plans for the company? The purpose of the business plan will affect the style and content so make sure you are clear on this before beginning. A good business plan needs to be tailored to the specific requirements of the target audience in order to be engaging.
2) Do your research. In order to be able to write a strong, comprehensive business plan you need to possess a sound knowledge of the market you are involved in. You need to actively conduct market research and ensure that your plan makes reference to your findings. It should include factors such as market size, the predicted growth path of said market and how you propose to gain access to it. For example, if you are planning on opening a bar then your business plan should include figures based on the local population, cost of suppliers, predictions about whether the bar industry is likely to grow or decline in the area and a review of the competitive environment.
3) Assess your competition. Understanding your competition is an essential component to understanding any business environment. Whatever the business you are looking to establish, you will always have competition in varying degrees. Perhaps you want to open a restaurant in an area that is already saturated with eateries; you then need to think about what is the unique selling point of your restaurant. Or maybe you have found a niche in the market, why is that? In order to make your business a success you should look to your competitors to see how they are managing their business or areas where they could improve. You also need to assess whether you can compete effectively with the existing businesses and how you plan to do so.
4) Attention to detail. A plan that is concise and clear reads professionally so don’t make yours too wordy. The reader needs enough detail and information to be able to make an informed decision. As with all professional documents, care must be taken to avoid spelling mistakes and use correct grammar and punctuation. A plan that makes absurd or unrealistic assumptions is of no use so stick to the facts and make sure you are making credible projections and accurate content at all times.
5) Cover all bases. Before embarking on your plan it is a good idea to undertake some research in to what a professional business plan should include. You can then use this as a check list to make sure you have covered all the relevant areas. Sections of the business plan should include information on the company, the product/service market, competition in the field, management team, marketing strategy, operations and financials.
Once you have done all this you should have a complete and detailed professional business plan. The most important thing to remember when developing the plan is to see it as a living document and include specifics regarding dates and specific responsibilities. Your plan will need constant reviews and updates and things change so expect it to be a work in process for a good stretch of time. It will all be worth it in the end, a well-written plan will help ensure that the business is fully focused on what is required to achieve the company’s goal.
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